There is growing curiosity over the murder of Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom’s Principal Special Assistant on Knowledge Economy and Investments, Dr Tavershima Adyorough, last Sunday at his residence in Makurdi.
What is even more annoying is that the killing which has aroused extensive discussion across the state occurred barely a year after another of the governor’s aides, Denen Igbana, was killed in a similar manner.
In fact, the spate of assassinations in the state has become so scary that the inhabitants now live in constant fear of the unknown.
Though, there are insinuations by some people that the latest murder was a robbery incident, stronger opinions however suggest that it was the handiwork of hired assassins considering the fact that nothing was stolen from the victim.
While the present incident involving Adyorough brought the number of government appointees who have been killed in Ortom’s administration so far to two, the total number of alleged politically motivated killings stands at four under the present leadership in the state.
Worst still, many others murdered in cold blood under similar circumstances in the past one year in different parts of the state, with Kastina Ala and Ukum local government areas having large numbers, are enough reason for the current curiosity pervading the state which prides itself as the ‘Food Basket’ of the nation.
There had been high profile killings in Kastina Ala which included those of a second republic state lawmaker, Chief Atodza Hindan, a university lecturer, Wilfred Tersoo Tondo of University of Mkar, one Douglass Begha, also a former state lawmaker from Ukum and the crucifixion of an Ukum prominent farmer, Anyam Tswam, for allegedly exposing criminals.
The alleged four politically motivated killing include those of Hindan, a Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, Tondo, an APC local government chairmanship aspirant, while Igbana and Adyorough served in Ortom’s cabinet.
Others include a senior lecturer with the College of Education in Katsina-Ala town, Dr. Julius Kpagh and four other people in separate incidents within Kastina Ala while similar killings also occurred in the area in March this year when five people were hacked to death at Mbayongo district of Katsina-Ala with another five persons killed the next day in neighbouring Ayati village of Ukum LGA by those suspected to have shot dead 10 members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in the area in January.
Although, most of the killings were linked to a deadly gang which used the means to settle perceived scores, the worry however remains that the gunmen terrorise the vicinity at will, maiming the innocent while terminating their targets.
The latest victim, Adyorough, was based in the United States of America until the Ortom administration urged him to return home in order to deploy his wealth of experience in helping to build, the “Our New Benue for a Collective Vision.”
He was killed at his residence in Makurdi, making it two of Ortom’s aides murdered so far half way into the four-year journey of the administration, the first being the governor’s Senior Special Assistant on Security, Denen Igbana.
Igbana was shot and killed on May 20, 2016, by yet-to-be identified gunmen at his Tion-Sha resident along Naka road in Makurdi.
It was gathered that the gunmen invaded late Dr. Adyorough’s residence at about 12.10am last Sunday and killed him. They also shot his wife who is now on admission in a hospital.
The State Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama, said the police received information at about 12:20am of last Sunday that two yet to be identified gunmen shot Adyorough and his wife in their residence at BIPC quarters in Nyiman, Makurdi.
“The police on arrival rushed the couple to the BSU teaching hospital where the man was confirmed dead while the wife is currently receiving treatment.
“Five expended cartridges were also recovered from the scene of the crime,” he said.
Makama said he ordered immediate investigation to unravel those behind the crime and assured members of the public that the perpetrators would surely be brought to book.
According to the police commissioner, the incident cannot be immediately blamed on robbery or assassination as it required intelligence security network to unravel the motives of those behind the act.
Governor Ortom on his part described the killing as unacceptable and condemnable, as he urged security agencies to swing into action immediately to arrest those responsible.
He added that the late Adyorough was a competent and dependable aide who delivered on assignments with dedication and honesty as he sympathized with the immediate family of the deceased.
Ortom who made the remark when he visited wife of the slain aide, Mrs Mrumun Adyorough, at the hospital, described him as a renowned economist who contributed his quota to the state’s development.
Commenting on the deceased’s wife, Mrs Mlumum Adyororough, who was shot while trying to protect her husband, the Chief Medical Director BSU Teaching Hospital, Dr. Terlumun Swende, said the woman was in a critical but stable condition. She survived the surgery carried out on her but had not been told that her husband is no more.
The governor said the gruesome killing touched his heart as he vowed that the killers must be apprehended and prosecuted no matter how long.
He noted that the policies and programmes of his administration would not be abandoned, insisting that he would not surrender the state to criminals who have refused to give up their illegally acquired arms and ammunition when the carrot approach of his amnesty programme was being implemented.
Ortom said there was no reason at the moment to begin to arrest people based on suspicion over the incident unless reliable information was made available to security agencies as he appealed to the members of the public to expose whatever they know about criminals to the relevant quarters for appropriate action.
Meanwhile, a former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, who decried the current security situation in the state, describing it as, “quite disturbing” has called on the governor to look inwards.
“Some of the governor’s aides are men of shady characters, especially members of the State Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) whose leader is said to be once a member of the dreaded Boko Haram sect. The CJTF are not trained in the use of firearms but they bear fire arms and can be used by anyone. They are said to often exploit both Fulani herdsmen and Tiv Farmers,” Tsav alleged.
He also decried the proliferation of arms and ammunition in the state, saying if nothing was done about it there was likely to be more assassinations as election year draws nearer.
“The security situation in Benue State is quite disturbing. Consequently, there is proliferation of arms and ammunition in the state. If nothing is done about this, we may record more assassinations in the state as election year draws near,” he said.
The ex-police commissioner told our correspondent in Makurdi that the latest assassination of Adyorough was one too many as he urged the police not to go far in their search for evidence on it because the evidence was in the face only if they work diligently and without interference.
Tsav added: “Since Ortom came on board as governor of Benue State, four such assassinations to include elder statesman Atoza Hindan, Wilfred Joseph Tondo, Denen Igbana and Dr Adyorough have been recorded with none successfully resolved or prosecuted.
“This particular assassination is very worrisome. Dr Adyorough who was based in USA was invited to help the government of Benue on economic matters. He had no political ambition neither was he vying for any elective office. He was a simple and competent professional.
“It is alleged that he was a member of the staff screening team whose main mandate was to detect and remove names of ghost workers and thus reduce the state wage bill.
“It is alleged that he discovered a lot of irregularities and discrepancies and was not happy or willing to compromise his integrity. He wanted this exposed. Maybe concerned officials did not like this, hence they conspired to get him out of the way,” he added.
Tsav who is also a Commissioner at the Public Complaints Commission in Benue State, emphasised that the police must be diligent to uncover the traces which in his estimation are thinly covered but latent.
In the meantime, residents of the state are anxiously waiting for the apprehension of those involved in the death of not only Adyorough but countless others.